April 1, 2016

"LSD could make you smarter, happier and healthier. Should we all try it?"

A serious article in The Washington Post. Excerpt:
Here’s why scientists think it works: When someone takes a psychedelic, there is a decrease in blood flow and electrical activity in the brain’s “default mode network,” a group of brain structures found in the frontal and pre-frontal cortex. The default mode network is primarily responsible for our ego or sense of self; it “lights up” when we daydream or self-reflect.

When we trip, our default mode network slows down. With the ego out of commission, the boundaries between self and world, subject and object dissolve. These processes may be related to something called the “primary mystical experience,” a phenomena highly correlated with therapeutic outcomes. As Matthew Johnson, a principal investigator in Johns Hopkins’s psilocybin studies, explains, these experiences include a “transcendence of time and space,” a sense of unity and sacredness and a deeply felt positive mood.
Note the quick jump from "mystical experience" to "therapeutic outcomes." Disrespect for religion is an undercurrent to this discussion, which assumes the legal use would entail the assistance of medical professionals. The article quotes drug-policy expert Mark Kleiman, who "emphasizes the importance of containing the experience, both during the trip, for the purposes of safety, and afterward, 'so it’s not merely a one-off mystical experience, but actually something you could build a life around.'"

You can't build your life around a religious experience?

57 comments:

HoodlumDoodlum said...

This assumes that when the mental boundaries between myself and the wold fall away that I'll feel enlightened and peaceful instead of powerful, vindictive, and god-like. I mean, not that I would, of course, but maybe for some people those boundaries are useful?

I'm thinking something like this maybe.

Matt said...

Did Timothy Leary orchestrated a future April Fools joke before he died?

Michael K said...

I see no mention of flashbacks or persistent delusions. When I was a senior medical student, and the president of the student body, in 1966, the Dean called me to discuss the drug problem among medical students. In the sophomore year there were 25 students taking LSD. They were from the peak drug years of the 60s. He told me of one student who he had called in when he learned the student was hallucinating in the presence of patients. The student told him that he enjoyed going to the ocean and listening to the waves which talked to him. The Dean said that the hallucinations were very powerful and seemed real. The student responded, "Oh no. They were really talking to me." He had not taken the drug for several days.

Mr Wibble said...


You can't build your life around a religious experience?


A lot of people don't believe in God.

Very few have no religion. Call it the conservation of religion: religious impulses don't go away, but get redirected elsewhere. The left and the counterculture have sought to harness that for the past century in order to remake society.

YoungHegelian said...

As Matthew Johnson, a principal investigator in Johns Hopkins’s psilocybin studies,

Oh, this clown has shown up repeatedly in my FB feed looking for rabbis to come & get high at Johns Hopkins.

This particular link came up with an image of a Torah scroll, a kippah, & a silver yad saying they were in need of rabbis for the study. Izzit that tough to find a rabbi in, of all places, Baltimore, who will get wasted for science?

I can imagine some scenes from this expansion of science:

So, Father, while you were on the psilocybin, were you ever thinking about playing either "Sunshine of Your Love" or "Stairway to Heaven" on air guitar?"

YoungHegelian said...

It reminds me of a joke, dude: "A priest, a minister & a rabbi walk into a higher plane of consciousness, and they see a bodhisattva by the door. The priest says "Dude, you're a bodhisattva! We came here lookin' for an angel! And the bodhisattva says ..."

Oh man, I'm so fuckin' baked, I forgot the rest of the joke..

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...the boundaries between self and world, subject and object dissolve.

No. They Don't. Your perception of those boundaries might. The boundaries are still there.

Jon Burack said...

Back in the good old days, I did LSD, mescaline, other related stuff. It was occasionally fun, but the fun wore off. As to the supposed underlying "psychological reality" supposedly supporting the "mystical experience," all I can do is laugh. These days, I just listen to Mark Knopfler's "Speedway at Nazareth." Damn "scientistic" psycho-ologists can call it what they will. I call it transcendence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEUElR_ljdk

"But at the speedway at Nazareth, I made no mistake."

SteveR said...

You may be all good with yourself but my experience is you are no good for anyone else.

Steven Davis said...

I equate an LSD trip to a powerful and vivid dream. Very real and intense at the time, and right after you wake up, you think that it had profound meaning. Later in the day, you think about it again, and realize it was just a dream.

Meade said...

"Did Timothy Leary orchestrated a future April Fools joke before he died?"

Be there then.

jdniner said...

Wouldn't looking at MAO'ized picture of HRC do the same? j/k

IMO it should be personal choice. There was a guy who recently killed his girlfriend because his LSD trip expanded his paranoia.

If you alter your consciousness by positive thinking, prayer, meditation the changes are somewhat permanent. The drug induced kinds are pretty spiky and don't always alter in a positive way.

Legalization of Marijuana brought forth a lot of people using without a clue to safety around the drug. The legalizers weren't clear either.

I can't think of a good reason to drop acid unless a person is pretty lost and wants to roll the dice. It transforms a person? So would sex, alcohol, spontaneity.

khesanh0802 said...

I thought Timothy Leary was dead.

Michael said...

On the corner of the Alameda and Sand Hill road back in the 80s there was a man I came to know as "good value." A promising tennis player at Stanford he hopped on a trip that lasted most of the five years I passed that corner. Smiling at cars. Good value.

sean said...

Well, I took LSD a number of times in high school and college, though maybe not so many as Prof. Althouse, who is older than I, and I can't say it made me stupider (789 LSAT [179 in today's scoring]), but it also didn't change my life or my worldview. So I really don't care what other people do. (Including, I don't care if the government locks people up for using it.)

Sometimes my wife repeats one her trip insights of yesteryear--"the bottom of one thing is the top of something else"--and we both laugh hysterically.

Kevin Holmes said...

Timothy Leary's Indian friend & Guru, Baba Rum Raisin, once said , "April Fools, Bawanna".

Michael said...

The Harvard Psychedelic Club is an excellent history of the drug, Timothy Leary, et al. See also Owsley Stanley, the bear.

n.n said...

Not a religious or moral experience, but rather a mystical progression into the twilight zone, or in modern parlance a penumbra.

Michael K said...

LSD was all over when I was a medical student. The commending officer of my Army Reserve unit was Sid Cohen, who was also a professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.

One patient I examined had taken LSD with his psychiatrist (not Cohen) and the two zoned out. The patient had the hallucination that he was a fetus in utero and curled up in a ball, whereupon he became paraplegic. He straightened himself out and the paraplegia went away. What a trip !

He was in the hospital to have the AV malformation of his spinal cord operated on.

madAsHell said...

OK....my assumption is, that if you comment here, then you probably don't want government in your life, and you hate paying taxes.

With that in mind, I'm REALLY surprised by the number of folks that claim an LSD experience.

I never took acid.
I stuck to reefers, and opiates because they were God given. I don't drink diet pop for the same reason.

Levi Starks said...

Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.

Luke Lea said...

From conservative housewife to flowerchild in one afternoon: https://goo.gl/eyNU2q

Sebastian said...

"You can't build your life around a religious experience?" Not according to people who don't believe people believe what they profess to believe.

narciso said...

it is noteworthy, that many of the cia officials, who recommended the mk ultra program, ingested some themselves, previously as did a number of establishment figures,

Fernandinande said...

A serious article in The Washington Post.

Why wouldn't it be serious?

Michael K said...
I see no mention of flashbacks or persistent delusions.


Probably because they didn't happen.

The commending officer of my Army Reserve unit was Sid Cohen, who was also a professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.

Who says: "Man has the capacity to be more than a flower-picking primate. We need more thinking, not less, and a society that does not value trained intelligence is doomed."
That's just stupid. Was he being paid for spreading propaganda?

jdniner said...
If you alter your consciousness by positive thinking, prayer, meditation the changes are somewhat permanent. The drug induced kinds are pretty spiky and don't always alter in a positive way.


Contrary to what the research shows.

madAsHell said...
I stuck to reefers, and opiates because they were God given.


I don't know about "god given", but so are psilocybin and mescaline.

Hofmann [discovered/invented LSD], interviewed shortly before his hundredth birthday, called LSD "medicine for the soul" and was frustrated by the worldwide prohibition of it. Recently died at 102.

"Twenty-two of 26 psilocybin users reported that psilocybin aborted [cluster headache] attacks; 25 of 48 psilocybin users and 7 of 8 LSD users reported cluster period termination; 18 of 19 psilocybin users and 4 of 5 LSD users reported remission period extension. Research on the effects of psilocybin and LSD on cluster headache may be warranted."

rcocean said...

I thought we all figured out that LSD wasn't good for you back in the 1960s. Are is that all changed?

Ambrose said...

OK, you first.....

traditionalguy said...

Initiation into the spirit realm without a trustworthy Priest is suicide.

Go for it. It's only your delayed abortion.

Wasatch North said...

How about heroin?

Harold said...

Levi Starks said...
Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.

Sure I can. I've watched the effects of illegal drug use on others. At most no negative effects, no positive effects, and a whole bunch of negative effects.

Can pretty much say the same about tobacco use. Which I've never tried.

And prescription drug abuse for fun rather then pain relief.

Alcohol, from personal observation, appears to be the only mind altering drug that in reasonable quantities has good effects on most. On MOST. But, I've also known a few angry drunks who are miserable people to be around when they've had enough to make most people convivial. And none of them have been self aware enough to realize they shouldn't drink. And I've has a few alcoholics in the family so I am acutely aware of the bad effects it can have on some.

eric said...

Ann, it's all in good fun, but James Taanto is laughing at you.

Marc Puckett said...

Haven't read the article but presumably Taranto on Twitter is pulling AA's leg? or else I'm hallucinating (because of the hard cider, I guess, not because of LSD). Or just missing the joke, which does happen, unfortunately, alas, not all that infrequently.

David said...

"These processes may be related to something called the “primary mystical experience,” a phenomena highly correlated with therapeutic outcomes."

If you don't need therapy, what is a therapeutic outcome? It may well be the onset of psychosis, temporary or persistent, damaging or benign.

David said...

sean said...
Well, I took LSD a number of times in high school and college, though maybe not so many as Prof. Althouse, who is older than I, and I can't say it made me stupider (789 LSAT [179 in today's scoring]), but it also didn't change my life or my worldview. So I really don't care what other people do. (Including, I don't care if the government locks people up for using it.)


Are you sure it didn't get to you? You seem pretty fixated on that LSAT score.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't know why some people end up having bad trips, while others never do. Some have suggested that it depends on how well your head is together. One thing though is that psychedelics seem to be most attractive to the really smart. One guy I knew had SATs and LSATs like Sean. He would go to class in the morning, do his homework in the afternoon, then when done, drop acid. Had him in some classes, and he was the curve breaker. Later went to law school, and then started up and ran some successful businesses. As with most of those I knew doing psychedelics in college, I don't think that he did such after graduation - it was just a phase.

The problem though is that not everyone who did acid had their heads together. A lot of people did not, and I think that may be why they didn't do as well. But, then that is circular, because of that assumption, that because they had a bad trip or so, they didn't have their head together.

Chip said...

I'd sure like to try it again, but if it's still around I no longer have the connections. I'm mildly skeptical of flashbacks, but I understand how the core experience might seem religious or mystical. That wasn't my takeaway, but I do remember how deeply it altered my perception of day-to-day reality -- and for a long time after, every time. My experiences convinced me that LSD probably did have a catalyzing (and positive) effect on the cultural efflorescence about which so much has been written and observed. Cocaine, too. You can't look at a film like Apocalypse Now! and miss the secret sauce.

Just saw another article about the return of sensory deprivation tanks, though the new-fangled ones seem way different from the ones that were being touted by John Lilly -- another LSD traveler -- back when. Regardless, I hope it adds up to a trend. Life is more interesting with a zany drug culture in the background. The kids need more fun.

Stan Smith said...

They should have interviewed Art Linkletter's daughter about her trip. Oh, that's right, she's dead. Stepped off a balcony because she thought she could fly.

eddie willers said...

I thought Timothy Leary was dead

Oh no he's outside...looking in.

rcommal said...

You can't build your life around a religious experience?

Oh, for pete's sake. Of course you can. It's just that you can no longer build your life around such a thing AND ALSO demand never to be questioned about it, specifically IF AND/OR WHEN you insist others ought to be questioned, edited and curtailed in ways you, yourself, believe that you, yourself, not to mention yours, absolutely ought not be questioned.

We are living in bullshit times. The notion of "double-standards" not only **doesn't** begin to describe the reality in which we're are living, that notion **can't** describe it.

No one cares, at all, at all, about standards of any sort or kind. Period. Full stop.

tim maguire said...

I suppose the idea of mental health through medication would naturally include efforts like this, but unless you have an actual chemical imbalance, the drugs aren't going to do much more than get you high. So before we expand our minds, we need to make sure the definition of "chemical imbalance" is expanded to include everyone.

Mark said...

Stan Smith, I have always read that the toxicology report from Diane Linklater showed no LSD, despite what her father claimed.

Do you have proof of your allegation, or are you just recycling bullshit stories from 40 years ago because that's the best you got?

surfed said...

Cue to Jimi: "Are you experienced?" Mushrooms - kinder and more gentle. At least for this 63 year old.

Michael K said...

"Contrary to what the research shows."

Thank God we have an expert how great drug use is.

MadisonMan said...

I'd rather be in control of myself, thanks.

Relevant Video.

MaxedOutMama said...

I had close connections to at least two people who were very smart, did LSD while young, got destroyed, and never recovered. Both eventually committed suicide. One was the son of my father's best friend, and I am very firmly in the position of knowing that the problem was all drug, not family and not an underlying health problem.

I don't think this is a good plan, Stan. Prayer does not do destroy people like this.

LSD may permanently rewire your brain, esp. if you do it in your early years. Depending on genetics, the effect may vary a lot. If you don't know what it is going to do to you, you would be a fool to try it.

grackle said...

Confession: I took LSD several times in my 20’s(I’m 72 years old). The first trips were wonderful, the last couple were “bad trips.” So I stopped taking it. The problem with LSD is that the “bad trip” potential always exists – no matter what precautions you may take. The LSD trip is not very controllable.

But it got me interested in transformative experiences in general and eventually I discovered the writings of Abraham Maslow and his concept of “peak experiences.”

Maslow decided that studying disease and pathology in psychology was only half of the story. The neglected half was the study of wellness and health. What he found among the psychologically healthy and successful people that he studied was that they were all different but all had one characteristic in common: peak experiences – as defined at the link below.

http://tinyurl.com/jd95k8j

One of my peak experiences: At my daughter’s graduation for her Master’s I noticed she had an asterisk by her name on the program. I looked it up and suddenly realized that despite all the barriers and distractions she had experienced in those school years that she was graduating with honors.

It hit me then that my daughter would always be able to support herself, would never be dependent upon a spouse to support her, would always be able to overcome life’s obstacles – not because of anything her mother and I or anyone else would do but because of the strength within herself. And I went into a peak experience state for a few minutes – a state beyond words. What occurs during these episodes is a feeling that all questions are answered – it seems as if the world before was unbalanced and had suddenly gained an equilibrium, a harmony of sorts.

I think these studies are unintentionally attempting to bring on peak experiences with these drugs. For me the naturally-induced peak experience was much preferable to the drug-induced experience. I suspect using drugs to artificially induce the experience will eventually prove to be a dead end – as it was for me.

Ann Althouse said...

I think Taranto is indulging in some acid-head humor. You have to see all the layers.

Meade said...

"What occurs during these episodes is a feeling that all questions are answered – it seems as if the world before was unbalanced and had suddenly gained an equilibrium, a harmony of sorts."

My first peak experience — sensory vividness, universal connectedness, profound lovingness, peacefulness — occurred in 1958 when I was 4. On a hot July morning, my grandmother packed a picnic basket and took me to wade in a artesian spring on our family farm. I'll never forget the beauty of her smiling blue eyes, the picture book clouds in the sky, the cattle grazing on a distant ridge, the music of the cold pure water seeping out of the hillside, and the pleasing smooth mud squishing all around my toes. We laughed a lot. I was tripping my balls off.

The Godfather said...

Of course you can build your life around a religious experience: Saints do, and also some of us sinners. The question you should be asking is whether you can build your life around drug-induced hallucinations. Perhaps for some the answer is yes, but that's not the way I'd bet.

Also, even if some drugs can be therapeutic if used under carefully controlled conditions, that doesn't mean that extensive recreational use is a good idea.

Dennis Braswell said...

The quote recognizes that you can build your life around a series of "contained" mystical experiences. Sounds very much like the way I, and most who believe in God, live their lives.

TMink said...

I tripped a few times and found the experience valuable. It taught me that just because my senses tell me something, it ain't necessarily so.

A good lesson, but I have not been back to that school in 33 years.

RigelDog said...

Of course you can build your life around a religious experience: Saints do, and also some of us sinners. The question you should be asking is whether you can build your life around drug-induced hallucinations. ---The Godfather

Thank you for stating perfectly what I was trying to encapsulate. It could fairly be said that I have built my life---my philosophy, religion, ethics, reasons for living---around a few religious and peak experiences. Real things; not chemicals. Laying on my back in the grass at age 6, looking up at the clouds and having the sensation of clinging to the curve of this glorious earth. Walking through an empty dining hall at Methodist summer camp as a confident 14 year old atheist, I heard the song "I Need You" by America playing over the soundsystem. I stopped, and looked up at the cross on the wall, and suddenly knew that I needed God---like the flower needs the rain, like the winter needs the spring. Truer than true.

Fernandinande said...

Michael K said...
"Contrary to what the research shows."
Thank God we have an expert how great drug use is.


Thank god we have someone with selective reading skills and a mind so sharp and strong that it's never confused by facts that don't match its prejudices and worthless anecdotes.

MaxedOutMama said...
I had close connections to at least two people who were very smart, did LSD while young, got destroyed, and never recovered. Both eventually committed suicide. ... Prayer does not do destroy people like this.


Destroyed like this? -

Contrary to what some anti-drug campaigns will have you believe, dropping acid probably isn't going to make you depressed or psychotic. In fact, psychedelics might actually be associated with better mental health, a new study finds.

"Two neuroscientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology looked at associations between lifetime psychedelic use and mental health with data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the United States. More than 13 percent of the 130,152 randomly selected survey respondents reported they had used psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and peyote at least once in their life. The study found that psychedelic use wasn't significantly associated with serious psychological distress, receiving or needing mental health treatment or psychiatric symptoms.

The study didn't find any evidence for LSD flashbacks or hallucinations. Psychedelic users were likely to be younger, unmarried, and male, when compared to non-users. They were likely to have used a whole range of illicit drugs, and to have said they enjoy risk-taking. But they were not more likely to have lasting depression, anxiety or psychosis as a result of their drug use. Nor did the study find any evidence for LSD flashbacks or hallucinations."
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0063972

"The probability of developing HPPD [Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder] after consuming a hallucinogen is unknown. In their review article, John Halpern and Harrison Pope write that "the data does not permit us to estimate, even crudely, the prevalence of ‘strict’ HPPD."[5] These authors noted that they had not encountered it in their evaluation of 500 Native American Church members who had taken the hallucinogenic cactus peyote on at least 100 occasions. "

Viking In Winter said...

I dropped acid, worked on my differential equations homework, listened to Mozart and Hendricks, and took a bath with a lovely round healed wench. I married the lovely, got an engineering degree and bought a high end stereo. We have six grand children and still smoke a little weed together, 45 years later.

Meade said...

"We have six grand children and still smoke a little weed together, 45 years later."

How many toes?

Rusty said...

"LSD could make you smarter, happier, and healthier"

Alas, no.

Rusty said...

"LSD could make you smarter, happier, and healthier"

Alas, no.